Thursday, February 3, 2011

Adventuring to Chinatown

There are many gifts I'd like to bestow upon my children before they leave my nest.
Not smallest among those gifts is a thirst for adventure.
I have loved and longed for adventure my whole life.
I was fortunate to have a dad who made everything into an adventure.  
From trips to the dump to my first airplane ride at 16, he was there to make it exciting and magical.
We traveled to India together and I got my taste for adventuring abroad.
Now, just picking some one up from the airport gives me wander lust.
Riding the subway makes me long for Europe--the first place I rode the subway.
I love to see new places and experience new things.
It is an essential part of my being.

All that I am trying to pass onto my children.
I think I am doing an OK job so far.
I have yet to take them to Europe (still trying to figure that one out.  but we keep having more kids and the price of our airfare keeps increasing) but we're still seeking adventure.
For example, I've lived in LA for 10 years and had never been to Olvera St or Chinatown.
They haven't even been on the planet for 10 years and they've done both.

We adventured to Chinatown on Tuesday.  
Come along for the ride.

 Last time we took the metro to LA, most of our home school group went along.  This time it was just me and my adventure buddy, Rebbecca.  We have 6 kids between the 2 of us though, so we aren't exactly a small crowd.

Just riding the train is an adventure.  
When we boarded, there was a woman yelling about hell fire and brimstone to a car full of people who were sitting still as stones, trying to ignore her.
She yelled for a long time.

A man sitting near us was talking to James and William.
"Are these all your kids?" he asked me.
I told him they were and when I moved Lilly off my lap, his eyes grew big.
"And you're having another one?  Dang!  Your husband wasn't kidding around!  He said "I'm going have me a FAMILY!"
I just laughed and told him that is exactly how it happened.

The train travels through some of the grittier parts of Los Angeles.  You can't help but notice the mattresses and makeshift houses by the tracks.  Or the piles of trash that are seemingly everywhere.
James asked me why there was so much trash on the ground.
Rather than get into a complete lecture on socio economics and other things that I am not very knowledgeable about,  we talked about how just one person throwing their trash on the ground makes it easier for the next person to do it.  And the next.  And the next.
It made sense to him.
And it is a real reminder that throwing one small piece of trash on the ground, or picking one up, makes a difference.

Riding the train helps us experience a world we never would if we were on the freeway.
I think that is important.
Besides, I want my kids to know how navigate all sorts of transportation.
To read a subway map.
To make 3 transfers and not get left behind.
To have a snack on the platform while waiting for a train.
To experience the thrill of seeing the city from above.

 And below.

William's favorite part of the journey is the moment the train goes underground.  He loves it.
On the way home he said, "I love riding the subway.  It makes me ready to go in the Chunnel."
That boy speaks my language.

When we got off the metro, we began our walk into Chinatown and saw plenty of things to tell us we were in a new place.

But seeing this building was what really got the kids excited.

And then we walked into this square and it was magic.

 The girls walked slowly and took it all in.
 The boys, however, made a beeline for these:

I am not above letting my children ride on small, mechanical toys.
They loved it. (word to the wise: bring quarters)

We browsed a little.

We got fortune cookies.  I liked William's best.

The signage was incredible.  (more signs on Picnics it the Park, here)

And those red lanterns for New Years.  I could have taken a million pictures.
Oh yeah, I did.

The kids were happy to be together, to explore, and tell secrets.

To act goofy.

These were a big hit.
Yep, I gave my kids firecrackers.
Cause I am an awesome mom! 
(rebbecca actually showed me what they were.  i had never seen them before. guess what mom is really awesome.)

I did not, however, let them get cheap,fake, automatic machine guns.
Guess I am not that awesome, after all.

We loved these beautiful birds and their cages hanging outside a shop.
They reminded me of Hong Kong and watching all the older gentlemen take their birds for walks, in cages, each morning.

After a lot of walking, we had just one more stop to make.
Rebbecca wanted dim sum to take home.
We decided to sit down and have a cold drink while we waited for her order to be ready.

 That's right.  We're not afraid to live dangerously.

Soon tea things were delivered to our table, and the kids got to have tea.
Which some of them enjoyed quite a bit.

I felt bad just ordering drinks, so I ordered a bowl of soup.
It was a tureen.
So we had tea and soup and fortune cookies.
And 3 Sprites.
And all we went in for was some dim sum to go.

I won't even tell you how long it all took.
It was just one more adventure.

We headed back underground for the trip home.
A fun day with friends.
A fun day of adventures.

It really wore some of us out.

When we got home, William said, "I love Chinatown.  If I live there, can I still speak our language?"
James sat down and drew the sky scape of Chinatown as seen from the elevated train tracks.
I think they liked it.

Is it a lot of work to take 3 kids (+1) on an all day excursion like this?
Heck yeah it is.
When I woke up in the morning, I really didn't want to go anywhere.
The past 4 days had been busy and I was ready to play the pregnancy card.
Sometimes I do.  And that's OK.
But sometimes, I just have to remember that the laundry can wait.
Life is too short to stay home.

Wishing you adventures.  Just hang on and:

Love from,


Betsi* said...

I love this post! The words and the images are all so beautiful and inspiring. You make me want to take my brood to Chinatown, to Europe, on adventures! I could write a whole post myself on how much I love each of your photos.
You are doing such an incredible job with your littles. You are definitely in my "top ten moms I know" category. To get into that I have to want to live at your house. ;)
Someday we'll both be able to take our families on really grand adventures, like Europe and Africa. But for today, I think you are doing a pretty amazing job making fantastic adventures everyday. <3

Phyllis said...

Greta, I love this post. It has so much wonderfulnes in it. (I like making up my own words.) I love the importance you place on adventure at a time when it is so little valued. I love the photos. (Of course.) I love the truthfulness about how it was hard, and yet worth it. I love the snack-meal. I wish you had been my mom. :)

Lisa said...

awesome awesome awesome!!!
love reading of your adventures, yeah, you are the bomb mom!! and such an inspiration to us homebodies. going out to find an adventure today!!

Arica said...

I loved your post Greta! You are a fantastic writer, and I really enjoyed all of the colorful pics... now I have an itch to get on the metro and head over to Chinatown - lol.

"But sometimes, I just have to remember that the laundry can wait.
Life is too short to stay home." I may want to hang this somewhere in my home to remember, love it!

Melanie said...

Great post, Greta. And awesome photos, as usual. Just a word about the "snack on the platform while waiting for the train." It's not widely publicized but it's against the law to eat or drink on the platform. I only know this because Jonathan got cited for having a cup of coffee on the platform. Yeah. $80 later, we learned our lesson.

katie said...

The colors in your pics are so awesome! And I love love love that pic with sleepy littles resting on your baby bump. You look fantastic!

Jackie Cook said...

Someday.....I will have know you when! Your writing is beyond words, your mothering is impeccable and honest. Your talent for living life as it should be lived in inspiring. Love you Greta girl.

Life with Littles said...

This post made me tired :) I love all of your adventures and have to say that I am not woman enough to brave any field trips to the city. You guys are so adventureous. I love it.

Gabrielle - Design Mom said...

This whole post made my day. I so know that feeling of wanting to play the pregnancy card, but an adventure like that is worth the effort!

Also, this made me laugh: Your husband wasn't kidding around! He said "I'm going have me a FAMILY!"

Also, you're such a great writer!